St. Petersburg Times
Special report
Video report
  • For their own good
    Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
  • More video reports
Multimedia report
Print Email this storyEmail story Comment Letter to the editor
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Your name Your email
Friend's name Friend's email
Your message

Let a good-looking bed seduce you

By ELIZABETH BETTENDORF, Times Correspondent
Published August 31, 2007


TAMPA - Who hasn't flipped through the pages of a linens catalog or decorating magazine and paused to ogle a sumptuously put-together bed?

From bed skirt to fancy throw pillows, the well-decorated bed looks like the restful nest you long to crawl into, inspired by the latest trends in home decor.

For those of us who are decorating challenged, trying to get the look can be frustrating. Who hasn't been stymied by a too-short dust ruffle, pillows with no "oomph" or a bed that looks flat, not fluffy?

To get the bed of your dreams, experts have some tips to take the mystery out of what should go on above the sheets.

For one, skip the "custom" bedding.

"Once you buy it, you're married to it and it's probably cost you a lot of money," says Jane Xiques, who owns Rooms for Change by Jane, a home decor business in northwest Tampa.

You're better off investing in a custom bed skirt, Xiques says, which can give the bed a polished look for "under $1,000." When measuring, make sure to give it an extra half-inch of length so it brushes the floor, she advises.

Xiques also prefers coverlets rather than bedspreads in the hot Florida climate, though you can put a down comforter underneath for a "fluffier look," she says.

Three square Euro pillows backed by your own sleeping pillows complete the ensemble. If you're trying to design a bed that you're going to sleep in every night, "don't get too 'pillow carried away,' " Xiques explains.

"Too many pillows create a problem with where to put them when you go to sleep."

Think about your bed in components, from floor to shams. One good idea for getting that designer touch is to use a double-dust ruffle, says Mary Jo Conte, national director of customer service for Bed, Bath and Beyond.

"You can buy one that hangs longer and another that hangs shorter to get the look," Conte said.

Next, think about investing in what Conte calls "a mattress enhancer" - either a feather bed or memory foam pad "to give the bed that full-and-fluffy look."

On its display beds, Bed, Bath and Beyond often uses coordinating blankets, sheets and a down comforter, she says. If you opt for a comforter, "You always want to protect it with a duvet cover. It also allows you to change the color."

Conte recommends building pillows from the headboard, starting with 26-by-26-inch Euro shams, then layering with your sleeping pillows, and topping off the look with pillows covered in shams. All told, if you have a place to stack them at night, you should strive for six pillows for a completed look. Top it off with a few decorative pillows like neck rolls or boudoir pillows.

Conte says she is also a big fan of sets, including sheet sets or bed-in-a-bag varieties that provide everything from comforter to shams.

"They allow you to get started and have all the elements of a coordinated look," she says. "Depending on how creative you are, you can always pull out a key color and accent with toss pillows or a different color Euro sham."

Another thing to consider is size: With today's larger mattresses, you might want to consider going up a size when buying a bed covering like a comforter not sheets so it hangs better on the sides of the beds. The company also offers a handy, measurement-filled sizing guide on its Web site,

Linda Cox, a decorator with Robb & Stucky at International Plaza, says that when putting a bed together, think about mixing textures.

"Sateen and cotton contrast well with a lovely chenille fabric," she says.

Also think about comfort. Too often people overlook the fact that the bed is where they spend a lot of time every day restoring, recharging and revitalizing. Invest in the highest-quality sheets, mattresses, pillows and bed coverings you can afford.

"From the moment you walk into the room, the bed should make you want to get into it and lounge. It should inspire, no matter what the style - neutral, Zen or romantic," Cox says.

"Who doesn't like to spend a lazy Sunday in bed lounging, watching TV and reading the paper?"

Think about investing in an upholstered or leather headboard, she advises. They are not only in step with current design trends, but they feel great to lean against.

Swapping out bedding according to season is also a good idea, and duvet covers offer ease in rotating colors throughout the year. Think darker, warmer colors in the winter and light pastels or white in the summer.

"I love helping clients put together a beautiful bed," she says. "You can be so diverse and creative. My goal is to make it an actual destination rather than a place you just walk by and throw clothes."

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at

[Last modified August 30, 2007, 22:20:02]

Share your thoughts on this story

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Subscribe to the Times
Click here for daily delivery
of the St. Petersburg Times.

Email Newsletters